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Accused drug smuggler denies charge

PUBLISHED: 14:53 15 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:55 03 March 2010

A COLUMBIAN asylum seeker has claimed that he helped smuggle £900,000 of cocaine through Felixstowe after threats were made to his family.

Xavier Bermudez-Botero, 28, told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that he was warned that some of his relatives in Columbia would be killed if he didn't help bring the drugs into the country.

A COLUMBIAN asylum seeker has claimed that he helped smuggle £900,000 of cocaine through Felixstowe after threats were made to his family.

Xavier Bermudez-Botero, 28, told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that he was warned that some of his relatives in Columbia would be killed if he didn't help bring the drugs into the country.

He said the threats were backed up by a visit by two men to his family home in Columbia.

"I felt obliged to do the job because I didn't want anything bad to happen to my family. I knew I might get caught and go to prison but the most important thing was my family," said Bermudez-Botero through an interpreter.

He is one of five defendants who have pleaded not guilty to being involved in smuggling the cocaine through Felixstowe.

Also before the court are Jorge Gomez, 30 from Columbia and Richard Bernardus, 27, Isitiyarto Iskandar, 37 and Yayang Mardianus, 45 all from Indonesia.

The court has heard that Bermudez-Botero and Gomez were arrested by customs officers as they left a boat called the Nedlloyd Clement which was berthed at Felixstowe and were found to be carrying the cocaine in body vests under their clothes.

The other three defendants were crew members of the Nedlloyd Clement who had been asked to bring the drugs from Columbia.

Bermudez-Botero told the court that he came to England as an asylum seeker and had been granted asylum because he feared his life was in danger in Columbia where he had been a member of a social action movement.

The trial continues.


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